Stratigraphic Distributions of Genera and Species of Neogene to Recent Caribbean Reef Corals

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Peer Reviewed


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Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Paleontology

DOI of Published Version


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To document evolutionary patterns in late Cenozoic Caribbean reef corals, we compiled composite stratigraphic ranges of 49 genera and 175 species using Neogene occurrences in the Cibao Valley sequence of the northern Dominican Republic and faunal lists for 24 Miocene to Recent sites across the Caribbean region. This new compilation benefits in particular from increased sampling at late Miocene to early Pleistocene sites and from increased resolution and greater taxonomic consistency provided by the use of morphometric procedures in species recognition. Preliminary examination and quantitative analysis of origination and extinction patterns suggest that a major episode of turnover took place between 4 and 1 Ma during Plio-Pleistocene time. During the episode, extinctions were approximately simultaneous in species of all reef-building families, except the Mussidae. Most strongly affected were the Pocilloporidae (Stylophora and Pocillopora), Agariciidae (Pavona and Gardineroseris), and free-living members of the Faviidae and Meandrinidae. At the genus level, mono-and paucispecific as well as more speciose genera became regionally extinct. Many of the extinct genera live today in the Indo-Pacific region, and some are important components of modern eastern Pacific reefs. Global extinctions were concentrated in free-living genera. During the turnover episode, no new genera or higher taxa arose. Instead, new species originated within the surviving Caribbean genera at approximately the same time as the extinctions, including many dominant modern Caribbean reef-building corals (e.g., Acropora palmata and the Montastraea annularis complex). Excluding this episode, the taxonomic composition of the Caribbean reef-coral fauna remained relatively unchanged during the Neogene. Minor exceptions include: 1) high originations in the Agariciidae and free-living corals during late Miocene time; and 2) regional or global extinctions of several important Oligocene Caribbean reef builders during early to middle Miocene time.

Published Article/Book Citation

Journal of Paleontology, 68:5 (1994) pp. 951-977.

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